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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Women Report Being Raped in Military

Aired March 6, 2012 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live from New York City.

Is the U.S. military trying to hide a dirty little secret? Women in the U.S. military, raped, assaulted and harassed, while their attackers are protected under a code of silence. Two victims share their unbelievable stories right now with me live.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, public outrage as eight military women say they were raped or harassed, then retaliated against after reporting the abuse. If the women sacrificing to serve our country aren`t protected, how can any woman feel safe? Tonight, two of these women tell me their story live.

And uproar as a Wisconsin state senator claims single moms are responsible for child abuse. I`ll talk to the man pitching this new bill that has sparked outrage among single mothers, and I`m taking your calls.

And a victim`s family attacks the murder suspect right in front of the judge, and it`s all caught on tape. We`ll show you the out-of-control courtroom brawl.

Also, a 700-pound man says he`s a prisoner in his own body and sends out a video plea for help. Tonight I`ll use my experience as a recovering addict to give him concrete suggestions that, if he follows, will help set him free.

Plus, why all the crazy weather? Record highs, deadly tornadoes. Is Mother Earth mad at us? And if so, why?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scathing allegations of military women being raped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He immediately began to press himself against me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gang raped, assaulted and harassed at alarming rates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I tried to fight him off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both of them threatened me with death and raped me. I had humiliated him in front of his junior Marines, and he wanted to humiliate me back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were 19,000 sexual assaults last year alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We own this problem. We need to fix this problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was screaming at me. I was routinely called a slut and a whore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was denied help, even with our men saying things differently from him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a horrifying trend hidden behind a cloak of secrecy, power and so-called honor. Women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our country say they`re being raped, assaulted and sexually harassed by men within their ranks. What`s worse, they say, they`re taunted, threatened and punished just for reporting it.

Eight brave American women are suing the U.S. military for having a, quote, "high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks and zero tolerance for those who report being raped."

The defense secretary himself admits the military has a huge problem on its hands. He estimates there were 19,000 sexual assaults in the U.S. military last year alone.

This crisis is the focus of an award-winning new documentary called "The Invisible War." Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything changed the day that I was raped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He hit me in the head and knocked me out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember holding the closet (ph), thinking, what just happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A month later I found out I was pregnant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If this is happening to me, surely I`m not the only one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I recommend everybody watch "The Invisible War." What do you think about this? I frankly was stunned to read the details. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my two very special guests. I`m very honored to have with me two former U.S. Marines, Elle Helmer and Ariana Klay. You were featured in "The Invisible Warrior," both part of the lawsuit that was filed today.

Elle, I want to start with you. Describe what happened to you. Because you talked about a hostile climate of alcohol consumption, hazing, name calling. What happened to you that night in 2006?

ELLE HELMER, FORMER U.S. MARINE: Well, thank you for having me here.

The evening or the afternoon, I should say, of March 16, 2006, I was ordered by my company commander, who was also the rapist, to attend a mandatory command sponsored indoors pub crawl. This pub crawl was something I didn`t want to go to, considering we were running from six to seven different bars at the capitol area, had T-shirts printed, and just essentially binge drink the entire time.

There was hazing that occurred. There was a lot of pressure, considering I was the only female officer there as a second lieutenant.

After the event -- after the evening I left to go home to call a cab. As I was walking out the door my company commander stopped me and walked me across the street, said, "I need to talk to you in my office."

When we got to the office, he immediately began to -- began sexual assaulting me. Sexually assaulting me. It was kissing me, pressing me against the wall.

A physical altercation ensued. I tried to fight him off. In the meantime, I was knocked out and rendered unconscious when I hit my head on his office desk, and that`s when he raped me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What happened when you complained?

HELMER: I immediately tried to go and get help. And I had to change my uniform out of my clothes, which were evidence, and meet the colonel at 2 in the morning, which he even documented in the NCIS investigations. And the colonel told me once you leave the barracks, once you report this, I can no longer protect you.

I however still went to NCIS and continued with an unrestricted report trying to get help and advocate for myself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was this man who you say assaulted you ever prosecuted? What happened to him?

HELMER: He was released for cause immediately the prior Monday -- the Monday following after the assault. So roughly March 18.

However, he never had to what I call face the music. Whereas I had to go back to work every single day and hear the rumor mill and hear other Marines talking about what had happened to me in the rumor mill and continuing just what was going on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What names were you called?

HELMER: I was called everything from a sorostitute to slut to bitch to career ender. They called me absolutely everything they could think of. And it was called to my face as well as to the Marines I was in charge of. And they were devastated by this. I would find out about it. Consequently, I was also told not to talk to any of the barracks officers while an investigation was pending, including the chaplain.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to watch another clip from "Invisible War," which won an audience award at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Look at it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sixteen thousand, one hundred and fifty service members were assaulted in 2009.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Half of the women have now been sexually assaulted in the U.S. military.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They let this man get away with everything but murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They gave him military professional of the year award during the rape investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They made it very, very clear if I said anything, they were going to kill me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, we`re going to show you graphics of how you can watch that movie if you want to check in on it. Because it is just stunning.

Ariana Klay, you served in Iraq, is my understanding. And you have another horror story. Tell us what happened to you, Ariana.

ARIANA KLAY, FORMER U.S. MARINE: That`s correct. About 13 months after I got back from -- or after I checked in, a senior officer came to my House at 7 in the morning after a Saturday on a parade, entered my House uninvited with his civilian friends, a former Marine. Said I had humiliated him in front of his Marines, and said that he was going to humiliate me because I had humiliated him. And the Monday after that, I didn`t go back to work.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you say he entered uninvited. How exactly -- tell us in people terms what happened there.

KLAY: My door was unlocked. I was sleeping in my home by myself, and he and his friend entered my house in a drunken rage at 7 in the morning.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And they sexually assaulted you, or one of them did?

KLAY: Both of them did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh my gosh. I`m so sorry. I`m really shocked by this. What happened to this individual or individuals?

KLAY: The one of the individuals was featured on a Marine Corps calendar during the investigation. But he was ultimately court-martialed. He was only convicted of 45 days. He was confined coincide 45 days convicted of adultery and abusive language for his admitted death threat. They granted complete immunity to the civilian, and their stance was there are two against one. Despite the death threat. By that logic, the more people you`re gang raped by, the less your case is. So it was pretty devastating.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to commend both of you for having the courage to come forward and speak about this. You`ve already shown courage in serving our armed forces, serving our country, and that`s one kind of courage. But this is a completely different kind of courage.

And make no mistake, viewers: it requires a tremendous amount of courage for a woman to step forward and speak about a violation.

I was so stunned to find out, according to this documentary, military women are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. Only 8 percent of the sexual assault cases are prosecuted. There`s only 2 percent in terms of a conviction rate.

I got to go back to you Elle. Well, you`re both very attractive women. Elle, did you find that you were targeted more for being attractive? How did that play into the dynamic?

HELMER: I think the dynamic dates back to prior to my assignment there. I was hand selected to become the public affairs officer at Marine barracks Washington. And prior to interviewing for that job, quote unquote, with the colonel, I was asked to send photographs of myself in a uniform.

So that meant that they had hand selected me to fill a certain, you know, certain role model, poster child. When I got there, the colonel even said, "You`re the face of the Marine Corps. The commandant wants a female Marine officer to march and wants one to represent the barracks, and this is a huge opportunity. So we needed a female."

As a second lieutenant with no job training, I was the senior female officer, the only female officer on deck.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve heard you say that once -- that sexual -- that somebody started coming onto you, and that the real problem started when you said, "No, I`m not interested."

HELMER: Correct. I think at first it was easy to laugh it off. And at first, it was easy to default to this second, "Well, it`s not really professional to have a relationship within the unit."

And then when you finally said, "You know, I`m really not interested. I`d rather we be friends," that`s when you became the target. And they hated you for standing up for yourself. And that`s when the early retaliation and harassment began. Because you shut somebody down, they`re resentful. And they don`t like you. And they spread words with their friends of "oh, she`s horrible, she`s terrible." That`s why I was ordered to attend the command function, because I was very aloof. I had to be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you again. Hang in. We`re not done with this. We`re taking calls. They`re lining up: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. And we`re going to talk to some experts. How is this happening? How are taxpayers funding something like this?

Is there a rape epidemic in the U.S. military? It`s a disturbing question to even have to ask, but apparently we must ask it.

Also, relatives of the mother who was allegedly stabbed to death want revenge. They`re caught on tape trying to attack the suspect in court. We`re going to see it here, plus, more on this military rape lawsuit straight ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment are a plague upon the United States military. A pervasive climate of sexual violence and intimidation threatens our national security by undermining readiness, draining moral, harming potential and destroying lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most rapists are repetitive criminals. They do it again and again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They go on to literally prey on men and women, girls and boys in our neighborhoods back home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When does this ever end?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very difficult to do a story on the most powerful institution in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The department of defense has a history of covering up sexual offense problems. I don`t know who you think elected you to defy the Congress of the United States. What is it you`re trying to hide?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight I am talking to two brave women live who say when they were Marines, they were raped while in the military and that then they were harassed and persecuted, because they had the audacity to report it.

The Defense Department will not comment on the lawsuit, but says, "Sexual assault has no place in this department. We`re committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety, dignity and well-being of our people."

The Pentagon now has a director of sexual assault prevention and response, a female Air Force major general. And I think the question is, is that going to solve the problem, or is that window dressing?

Let`s go to the phone lines. Sarah, Hawaii. Your question or thoughts, Sarah?

CALLER: Yes. I was actually stationed in the military, in the Navy. And I was a rape -- rape victim. And because my rank was higher than the person that raped me, he was considered the victim.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What? In other words, you were serving in the U.S. military. This man raped you, and because you had a higher rank, he was considered the victim because he raped you, Sarah?

CALLER: Yes, the investigation through NCIS led to the conclusion that I must have done something to bring this upon myself. That it was consensual because I was married at the time.

I was told that I would have to face trial or accept a general discharge under honorable conditions. Which -- that`s what I did to avoid reliving what had happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I got to go back to Elle. Does that sound like something that would happen?

HELMER: Absolutely. It`s easier to save face and just -- it`s all about in the military, or my experience was, how fast does the victim become the accused for something else? In my case it was a matter of 72 hours. Other cases it`s rampant. I mean, finding any fault or finding any loophole on behalf of the victim is the subterfuge by which the Marine Corps rids people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you something: this sounds like a misogynist culture. And the women taxpayers of America and the men who love them who also pay taxpayer -- taxes are not going to put up with this.

More in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on rape in the U.S. military in a moment. But, boy, we need a break. We need something fun. And so we`re going to give you some viral video. The "Viral Video of the Day" right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(DOG HOWLING, BANGING ON PIANO)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In case after case, the perpetrator is not only not punished; they frequently are promoted. They`re not only promoted, they`re frequently still made to command the person who has been their victim. Obviously these people go on to attack people in the civilian population or, indeed, their own family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A culture of rape in the U.S. military. That is the charge.

I want to go to Susan Burke, the attorney representing the two former Marines who are part of this lawsuit, who we`ve been talking to. Is this some kind of misogynist, women-hating culture? I mean, I hate to ask a question like that. This is about supporting our men and women in uniform. But boy, if this is happening as your plaintiffs allege, my gosh, this is a crisis.

SUSAN BURKE, ATTORNEY: It is a crisis. And I think what you can see is that there are pockets of tolerance for clearly misogynistic culture. The fact that the women -- female officers and enlisted can be called "slut," "whore" right to their faces, I mean, it is something that should not exist in this day and age.

The two women that you have on the show are joined by 28 in another lawsuit, as well as another six. This is a widespread problem that needs meet attention.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor, what should the U.S. military do about this?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They`ve got to change the climate there.

You know, if you look at the Department of Defense`s own statistics, Jane, only 2 percent of the reported assault cases resulted in conviction. And what`s more alarming is that 90 percent of the women who came forward to report the assault were involuntarily discharged, often given dubious diagnosis, like personality disorders.

Of the 19,000 assaults that took place last year, the Pentagon reports less than 15 percent are being reported. So there has to be some embracing of women when they come forward and not being scorned and called these horrible phrases like your witnesses have talked about.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s outrageous.

Doctor Cheryl Arutt, you`re a certified rape counselor. To be serving you`re -- it`s always violating to be raped, but to do it while you`re serving your country and risking your life.

Over the last decade, more than 100 U.S. military women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; 800 injured. These are women who have served as pilots and military police. And then to feel that they`re more likely to be raped by one of their own than killed in combat?

DR. CHERYL ARUTT, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, these are women who need to be as or more afraid of their own side than of the people that they`re out there fighting.

And the reason that it takes so much courage for these women to come forward is that rape is really the only crime that is often understood falsely as being about something a woman did do or didn`t do, rather than the rapist.

We don`t do this to things like mugging. If you hear about a mugging, you don`t say, "Oh, what were you doing wearing that expensive watch? Didn`t you know that someone might try to mug you? Or have you ever given money away voluntarily before? Well, then how do we know this wasn`t a consensual mugging? You know, we don`t say these things.

And so when we look at rape, it`s so often, in this culture in the military, you know it`s a culture that values discipline and that has very specific training protocols. So if there is this systemic problem, they must be condoning it. And they must be not putting discipline and priority on protecting the women officers.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, again, there`s this fabulous movie, "The Invisible War." Check it out. Thank you again, Ariana and Elle, and come back soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Wisconsin state senator is pushing a bill that would name single parents as a risk factor for child abuse and...

* (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE GALANOS, HLN ANCHOR: A Wisconsin state senator is pushing a bill that would name single parents as a risk factor for child abuse and neglect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m like upset about that. My kids are doing very good and I`m a single mother myself. And that`s just -- that`s not the right bill to pass at all.

RICHELLE CAREY, HLN ANCHOR: The children from single-parent households are more likely to be abused and neglected than from two parent households.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m as equally upset about the whole thing, being a mother myself. Fortunately I`m not single. I know how hard it is. And it`s a slam against women who are struggling to make ends meet for their children, with their children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is just like the latest in what seems like this ongoing attack on women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Are you sitting down? As if single parents out there doesn`t have enough stress now, one senator is proposing legislation that require his state to officially declare single parenting as tantamount to child abuse. Are you serious?

Wait a minute, aren`t single women and moms applauded? Hey, didn`t Beyonce even write a song about "Single Ladies"?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, put the brakes on, people. Because one Wisconsin senator believes old fashioned nuclear families is the only way to go. Really? It`s as simple as that? Men and women get married and have children and our nation`s problems go away?

I respectfully beg to differ since we`ve seen so many cases of abuse in supposedly nuclear families that we cover on this show all the time. Exhibit A, Jason Young, just convicted of killing his pregnant wife and leaving their 2-year-old daughter to walk around barefoot in her own mother`s blood. 41 percent of all children born in the U.S. last year were born to single parents. Here`s what single mom told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would you attack single mothers? Like we`re doing -- it`s hard out here. We are doing the best we can for our children so that shouldn`t be a factor at all. There`s other stuff to worry about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So is being a single mom more likely to lead to child abuse? And why would this senator make that leap. Give me a call, tell me what you think, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. What does a single, never married senator with no kids know about this?

Joining me right now, let`s find out. Senator Glenn Grothman from Wisconsin; Senator, first of all, thanks for having the courage to be here, you`ve created quite a stir.

GLENN GROTHMAN, WISCONSIN SENATOR: I`m happy to be on the show just to answer your question.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I haven`t asked you a question. Go ahead. Don`t let me stop you.

Grothman: Sure. What do I know? According to the U.S. Department of health, the chances of a child being sexually abused are 20 times greater if that child is living with their natural parent and a boyfriend or girlfriend than with their natural mother or father -- 20 times more likely.

Now of course, most abuse, most single parents do not abuse their children. But abuse is much more likely to happen. And if we`re going to get serious about caring about the next generation of children, we do not want to continue to have the spiraling number of children who are born to parents out of wedlock.

The "New York Times" recently reported that 60 percent of the women born in this country to mothers under the age of 30 are born out of wedlock. If it results in that much more abuse nationwide, it seems as though it`s something we ought to educate these mothers about before they make that decision.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, first of all --

GROTHMAN: After all 50 years ago it was very rare --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok.

GROTHMAN: 50 years ago it was very rare.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you know what; 50 years ago the reports on abuse may not have been as thorough as they are today. Because I know that kids were getting smacked around 50 years ago. They didn`t have the Internet. They didn`t have Twitter. They didn`t have Facebook. They didn`t have all sorts of social media to report stuff. So, some of the statistics do change over time because of better reporting.

But let me ask you this question and I`m asking this for the audience.

Do you know how single moms in Wisconsin feel about this legislation? Let`s hear from them, and then we`ll get some response. Let`s listen to single moms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTORIA GUTIERREZ, SINGLE MOTHER: I think that Senator Grothman is just completely out of touch with what really affects families and my family at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now you`ve had your say, Senator, and again I applaud you for coming on here. That`s not easy. But I want to bring in Rene Syler, author of "Good Enough Mother". And she`s a mother. What do you say, Rene?

RENE SYLER, AUTHOR, "GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER": Yes, I`m a mother. I`m not a single mother. But I have a number of single women who come to my site, goodenoughmother.com. I have to say Senator Grothman, I have to agree and echo what the sound bite -- what that woman had just said that you`re unfortunately I believe quite out of touch.

No single mother is thinking I`m going into this because this is an ideal situation. Single mothers work hard. And there`s no great big lobby to help them and to push their agendas down the field. So it`s an easy target. That`s the issue I have. It`s an easy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s what I would like to say. May I call you Glenn? May I call you Glenn, Senator? Glenn, here`s my thought. I think you have a kernel of truth in your statement that there is a problem in one respect when the government creates a financial payoff for women to have more children that they would not otherwise have. I agree with you. That`s a problem.

But why not go after the U.S. government that creates a system that gives a financial payoff for a woman to have another child simply to get that paycheck? That check. I agree we need to address that. But don`t paint all single mothers with a broad brush.

There are that small tiny minority of women, the tiny minority of women who go out there and who will, for a check from the government have another child. But that`s a very small minority that we need to address.

GROTHMAN: You, ma`am, are the type of person who is causing them to make the wrong decisions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, please.

Grothman: It is true, abuse does not happen in most of these families. But when people like you glorify the single motherhood family, you wind up changing the norm from what it was 40 years ago. 40 years ago (INAUDIBLE) children were raised with a mother and father at home. But people like you --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: People like -- are you talking about -- are you talking about me? You talking about me?

(CROSSTALK)

GROTHMAN: -- a lot more children are being abused. Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, no.

SYLER: I`m sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, all right. You know what; I understand that you know how to interrupt. You proved that.

Cheryl Arutt, I think we need to bring in a psychologist. You`re a divorced single mother with two children. What say you to this Glenn Grothman?

CHERYL ARUTT, CLINICAL AND FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, first of all, my understanding is that he wants to gut a lot of the financial supports that are in place for single parents. And I just want to say that if you need to do all of that just to make marriage more attractive, you need to take a serious look at what kind of parent, you know, what kind of partner you are. So I think that`s not the way to make marriage attractive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He walked away. Guess what? He walked away.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

ARUTT: Ok.

SYLER: You know what; I don`t understand it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take it Rene.

SYLER: I would love to ask him a question but since he`s not there. I`ll ask you Jane, and you and I can talk about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, yes. That`s ok.

SYLER: This presupposes that people who -- what if you are a woman whose husband dies, and now you`re a widow and you`re a single mother? Does that mean that your children are at risk of being abused? Because the fact of the matter is that abuse happens across all socio-economic lines. It doesn`t just happen in single parent households.

ARUTT: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course. Of course.

ARUTT: Right.

SYLER: And that is just, I think, such an amazing misconception.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`ve got a caller.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One second. Mark Eiglarsh, you are the other male on this panel and you`re a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor and I know a very proud dad. What say you, sir?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Senator Grothman seems to have come up to the panacea with all the problems that we have, he`s come up with the answer. I mean it literally is laughable. I understand what he`s suggesting but his thought is if we just call it child abuse then maybe certain women who are prone to give birth would then just keep their legs closed.

It makes no sense. And in doing what he`s doing, he`s insulting so many hard-working single mothers who through no fault of their own have found themselves having to raise children by themselves. It`s just ludicrous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Crystal, Iowa. Your question or thought. I understand you`re a single mom.

CRYSTAL, IOWA (via telephone): I come from a single parent family. My mother is a single parent. And it`s like she`s one of the hardest working people I know. I don`t appreciate, like, single parent mothers being blamed for everything. And isn`t it true that men are usually the ones that do the abuse and not women?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And also, you can`t have a child without a little help from a guy, if you know what I mean.

Now listen, there are some things -- I don`t want to use specious phrase, but it`s a pearl is a (INAUDIBLE). There`s a couple of things that makes sense that he said. For example -- food stamps. Now, I personally was looking at that and trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. He wants to restrict food stamps. I think we should encourage people who are on food stamps to eat a healthy diet.

SYLER: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But for a totally different reason because we want to help people stay healthy. I think that the government shouldn`t encourage with certain kinds of checks that they hand out to actually reward somebody for having a child that they would not have otherwise had to get a check. We do need as a culture to look at that, Rene.

SYLER: The problem is that`s a very easy argument. And people say well -- you know, people who are on public assistance, they should be eating healthy and they should be doing this. And they should be doing that. It`s not that easy especially when your choices are very limited in the place where you are. If you don`t have a car or there`s no fresh groceries in your area, it`s a little bit difficult to say no junk food for you. It`s not that easy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I certainly do not think that the solution that this state senator from Wisconsin who did not want to stay because he was just talking -- I gave him his piece. And then we just wanted to also have our say, and he walked off.

EIGLARSH: He blames you. You.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You might have a new client, Dr. Cheryl Arutt, psychologist. You may be getting a call this evening.

All right. Next, a 700-pound man has put out a video plea begging for help to lose weight. And next "Biggest Loser" winner, Olivia Ward, is going to join me. She`s going to give her solution. I`m going to give my solution as a recovering addict. And I`m taking your calls on this one. Let`s help him.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, ASKS FOR HELP TO LOSE WEIGHT: I have to slide forward to get off this couch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On his 23rd birthday at 700 pounds, Robert Gibbs says he`s a prisoner.

GIBBS: I`m just trapped. There`s no way out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a desperate moment as he lay in bed, unable to get out, Gibbs created this YouTube video.

GIBBS: This is my last chance, my last hope.

I made that video as a plea for someone`s help.

I`m 23. I barely have a life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: 23 years old, 700 pounds. Let me repeat that -- 23 years old, 700 pounds. Robert Gibbs has struggled with his weight his whole life. Now he`s realized if he doesn`t do something soon, he`s headed for an early grave. Stuck at home, unable to get out of bed, he turned to YouTube and made a desperate plea for help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIBBS: Hi, my name is Robert. I`m 23 years old. I weigh about 600 to 700 or more pounds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The video of his despair had gone viral; hundreds of thousands of hits, Dr. Phil offering to help. But what can Robert do to reverse decades of obesity? Even now his standard meal: two pizzas and a 2-liter of soda. I didn`t even know what a 2-liter of soda was; they had to tell me what it was.

I`ll be giving you my tips in a sec. But I want to hear from you, 1- 877-JVM-SAYS. I`m delighted to be joined tonight here on set by Olivia Ward, a big star in my book, past winner of the NBC`s "Biggest Loser", which airs tonight at 8:00 p.m.

Olivia, look at you. You know from experience what it takes to lose massive amounts of weight. First of all tell us, how much weight did you lose?

OLIVIA WARD, WINNER, "BIGGEST LOSER": I lost 129 pounds -- almost half of my body weight, actually.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Come on, everybody. That`s fabulous. And you look fantastic.

WARD: Thanks.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, if you had to give some advice to this young man, what would you say?

WARD: I think the first thing that I was so impressed is that, you know, one of the messages that I and my sister Hanna who was my partner, had send out is send out your SOS. He did the first step. He asked for help.

It`s going to be about getting a support system around this guy. Clearly, he lives probably with someone who is helping him get these unhealthy foods. Let`s get some education for these people. You know, just in changing basic nutrition I`m sure is going to be a big step that`s going to lead to huge changes for this man.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s take another look at Robert in his home. And just think about the secret struggles he deals with every day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIBBS: I have to slide forward to get off this couch. I`m just trapped. There`s no way out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s so sad. And listen, I`m a recovering alcoholic and I also identify as a sugar addict. I know a lot about addiction because I`m so addicted. I`m an addictive personality. I wrote a book called "Addict Nation".

And one of the things that I really hammered home is that overeating is food addiction. You are an addict. And that means it`s not like you`re a bad person. It`s not like you have a character flaw. You are an addict.

And there is a program. It`s called Overeaters Anonymous. And you can do it on the phone. I have called and done it on the phone. Just go to oa.org.

But here`s what I recommend to limit the playing field. Because I think you -- diets don`t work. But you can limit the bad food playing field. You can say to yourself, "No fast food, period." Don`t even go near a fast food restaurant. So, no pizza delivery.

Get rid of your microwave because then you don`t impulse eat. Absolutely no sugar and instead eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. What do you think Olivia?

WARD: I completely agree. I mean it is about being an addict. I`m a food addict. I wake up every day and make a choice to live healthier. I mean it`s something I will struggle with the rest of my life.

I also go out (INAUDIBLE) if it comes in a box, I`m not eating it. If it came out of the ground, from the ocean, I will eat that. So I think that is a very, very good rule of thumb. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, these kinds of things are not more expensive. I think that`s the big misnomer that fast food is cheaper and easier, maybe, but definitely not cheaper. You can definitely eat cheaply and well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well said. Go to oa.org.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s behind all that extreme weather? In just a second, but first, I think we all deserve a laugh break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BABY TALKING ON CELL PHONE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A fierce severe weather outbreak, the haunting sights and sounds of Friday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not just one tornado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just pretty much leveled the whole area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Entire neighborhoods are flattened. Schools are in ruins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s almost like that movie, "Twister".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve never seen anything like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: At least 40 people now dead from that string of devastating tornadoes that tore through the south and Midwest. Entire towns leveled, leaving scenes some compared to war zones.

And when we see weather like this, following last year`s crazy storms, and one of the warmest winters on record for America, I have to ask, what`s next? Did we anger Mother Earth? These extreme weather patterns have a lot of us worried. People have lost their homes, their lives. Is this just the beginning?

Straight out to my very special guest, Bjorn Lomborg -- he calls himself the skeptical environmentalist, named one of "Time`s" most influential people in the world, and the man behind the book and documentary, "Cool It Now". He`s been nice enough to join us all the way from Denmark.

Bjorn, thank you for being here. I`m looking at this stuff, I`m seeing people running for their lives, screaming, not knowing where their kids are, their homes destroyed, and I am saying, "This is crazy. It`s not normal." And somebody from the National Weather Service also echoed that and said, "This weather is crazy." Is Mother Nature angry at us?

BJORN LOMBORG, DIRECTOR, COPENHAGEN CONSENSUS CENTER: Well, Jane, I don`t know if Mother Nature is angry at us, but it`s clearly something that we want to tackle. And I think the cause of this is global warming comes virtually every time we see something damaging happening. But what we have to recognize is, we just don`t know whether global warming actually affects tornadoes. The U.N. climate panel tells us, we just don`t know.

But if we look at larger impacts, which we do have some sense of, namely flooding, and hurricanes, we have seen increasing damage costs, but not because of global warming making it worse, but simply because there are many more people with much more stuff.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

LOMBORG: And so in some sense, what you`re seeing here is just a lot more people with a lot more stuff. You will get more damage.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you have a lot more people. We have the world population exploding. We`re going to hit 9 billion people by 2050. You`ve got all those people consuming more than they ever have in the history of the human race. And so it comes back to physics. For every action, there`s an equal and opposite reaction.

Even if there was a chance, a possibility that climate change was responsible for some of this wreckage, wouldn`t it make sense to change our lifestyle and decrease our consumption? Because wouldn`t that actually increase the chance of, well, the stuff we do have, we get to keep. It`s not going to be destroyed in some kind of natural disaster?

I mean, Bjorn, when I look at this, I think, all these people suffering so much, maybe lifestyle change would ultimately leave them with more than accumulating a lot and having it all swept away.

LOMBORG: And Jane, that has a lot of argument for it. We should definitely try to change our behavior. My concern is just do we change it in the right way? A lot of people tell you, well, you should drive your car less. That`s an incredibly inefficient way to try to help people from for instance not experiencing tornadoes and hurricanes and damaging floods. Instead, what we should be focusing on is making sure that those people are much safer by focusing on getting more information beforehand, for instance, better modeling of tornadoes and the other freak happenings from nature. We should have better building codes, better enforcement codes. This is important stuff.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the other side.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Last April was the second deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in U.S. history. This past January was the fourth warmest January in U.S. history. We are breaking records left and right.

Now, Bjorn, you say, well, we can`t prove that climate change is responsible, therefore humans are responsible, but with all the consumption that we, humans, are engaging in, climate change is impacted, because you`re going to have an increase in temperature, increase in temperature warms the water, warm water creates hurricanes. I mean, you don`t have to be a scientist to do the math.

LOMBORG: There`s two things to this. Global warming is definitely happening and global warming is a problem. I think just making the very simple statement. We`re going to see worse hurricanes; that is a much more complicated matter, actually. The U.N. has spent about 20 years trying to figure it out.

(INAUDIBLE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it there.

END